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National slams 'Labour's failures at the border' after 10 people with Covid-19 entered NZ on same flight

National has slammed the Labour Government's pandemic response at the border after 10 people on the same flight who have Covid-19 entered New Zealand.

Dr Shane Reti. Source: Getty

National are calling for pre-departure Covid-19 testing along with two weeks quarantine after 10 of the 12 positive Covid-19 cases announced yesterday arrived into New Zealand on a single flight from India.

The 10 people had arrived in the country on an Air India Flight on September 26, and tested positive on their day three tests while in New Zealand.

It comes after 17 new Covid-19 cases were discovered on a flight which arrived in Auckland from India on August 23.

In a statement, National’s Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti said that at least one private flight arrived in Auckland from the same country in-between the two flights, of which several hundred on board had received pre-departure testing and were subsequently cleared of Covid-19.

The has announced it would require people entering the country to be tested for Covid-19 three days before departure as well as entering quarantine, he said. The results of the test would then be provided to airline staff before boarding their plane.

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Dr Caroline McElnay says every step of the process is designed to manage the cases closely. Source: 1 NEWS

“Pre-departure testing effectively pushes our border offshore and strengthens our protection from coronavirus,” Reti said.

“Labour can’t let bloody-mindedness stand in the road of strengthening our border. Labour’s failures at the border have already brought on another wave of Covid-19, the consequences of which were New Zealanders’ jobs, businesses and livelihoods."

Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay said in a media standup yesterday that the Ministry of Health would continue to "look at all the advice" on how to manage Covid-19 at the border, including the possibiliy of enforcing pre-departure testing.

“There’s a range of different pieces of advice that we’re pulling together and that would include looking at whether or not pre-departure testing would be a useful addition to what we currently have in place.”

National's announcement comes amid a push by leading Otago University epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker today calling for those travelling to New Zealand from countries with large Covid-19 outbreaks to enter into quarantine one week before their flight.

Anyone with a positive pre-departure test would need to delay their flight for one month to ensure they have been cleared of the virus, he said.

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Reti said reducing the need for lockdowns "could not be more crucial," adding that the first lockdown saw 215,000 Kiwis receive unemployment benefits, with a further 1.6 million jobs being saved by wage subsidies.

“National will protect New Zealanders from Covid-19 and allow our economy to flourish with a comprehensive border plan that includes pre-departure testing.”

In August, party leader Judith Collins called for New Zealanders returning from overseas to test negative for the coronavirus before entering the country. She also called for the mandatory use of contact-tracing technologies for those arriving in, or working at, the border.